Politics


The power to tax is the power to enslave. That’s not to say taxation itself is immoral. All of us can agree to a reasonable amount of taxes to pay for a functional government and basic social resources like funding the military, paving roads, and the like. But the bigger the government gets, the more taxes it needs, and the more money it takes. If the government taxed an individual 100% of their income, they will have effectively enslaved them because they are working entirely for the government and not benefiting from their own work. If the individual was allowed to keep 10% of their earnings, they are little better than a slave. It’s just a matter of degree. As this entitlement culture demands more and more, the government will continue to take more and more in taxes, enslaving us degree by degree. If you want freedom, keep our government small.

diversityDiversity is not a value.  Diversity just is.  We don’t value diversity for diversity’s sake, but for what that diversity provides us. For example, we value diversity in food because we enjoy eating different kinds of food.  We value diversity of clothing styles because we like to express ourselves in different ways, and we think it would be wrong to make everyone wear the same kind of clothes or eat the exact same food.  But there are some examples of diversity that should not be valued or “celebrated.”  We should not celebrate diversity in moral views, particularly when some of those moral views entail gross immorality.  The British did not celebrate the diversity of Indians when they burned their widows on the funeral pyre.  They forcibly ended that barbarism.  We should not celebrate diversity in how women’s genitalia is treated – celebrating those who mutilate women’s genitalia alongside those who do not.  We should not celebrate the diversity of killing one’s own daughter after she is raped to preserve the honor of the family.  Not all ideas are of equal value.  We celebrate the diversity of people, but not the diversity of ideas.  Bad ideas should be fought against – first by persuasion, but if that fails, in some cases we must fight those ideas by force.

refugeesA lot of Christians are arguing that our Christian principles, based in Scripture, demand that we welcome the Syrian refugees. This article shows why this is a hasty conclusion regarding the teaching of Scripture.

Surely the Scripture does not mean to say we should allow foreigners to come into our nation who intend to kill us (as if the Israelites would have let the Philistines or Babylonians into Jerusalem!).  And surely those who argue that Scripture demands we accept the Syrian refugees would not cite those same passages if they knew members of ISIS or Al Qaeda were among them, but could not be identified.  But here’s the thing: We know from the experience in France that terrorists are coming in with the refugees undetected, and people have been murdered as a result.  Until and unless we can properly vet these refugees to determine who is a possible terrorist and who is not, how can any reasonable person say we should just let them into our country?  It only takes a few terrorists to produce mass killing.  9/11 and the French attacks are proof of this.

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Religious-Liberty-CensoredIt’s alarming to me how the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment is being framed these days by government officials. It is being limited to the freedom to believe as you want privately, rather than the ability to practice your faith publicly. Case in point: same-sex marriage. A Christian business owner is free to believe that same-sex marriage is immoral, but they are not free to act on their convictions by denying a request to offer their services in support of a same-sex wedding. They can believe as they want, but they cannot act on those beliefs in a public manner.

This is wrong. The First Amendment guarantees us the right to believe and practice our religion without government interference.  The freedom of religion is not limited to the private sphere, but to public expression as well.  Indeed, religious freedom that doesn’t allow one to act as if their beliefs are actually true is not religious freedom at all.

If we allow the government to reinterpret the First Amendment as a right to private belief only, we will cease to have true religious freedom in this country. Freedom of religion means that one is free to believe as they want, and to act on those beliefs.

That’s the recommendation of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Conduct. In their opinion, judges should not be allowed to marry only opposite-sex couples or even forego marrying anyone in order to avoid marrying same-sex couples. Either marry same-sex couples or find a new job:

A judge’s oath to support the constitutions of the United States and the State of Ohio requires the judge to recognize and adhere to binding court interpretations of the same. A judge’s unilateral decision to refuse to perform same-sex marriages based on his or her own personal, religious, or moral beliefs ignores the holding in Obergefell and thus, directly contravenes the oath of office.

In other words, Christian judges who want to be faithful to their God and their conscience need not apply. Religious liberty and the freedom of conscience is not allowed as a judge. We are watching religious liberty and the freedom of conscience erode before our very eyes and yet few hear the alarm going off.  We said it would happen, and it’s happening left and right.  This is just the beginning.

Everyone on the left said that giving rights to gays and allowing same-sex marriage wouldn’t affect anyone. It was a lie. The effects have been immediate. Think of all the professions that Christians are being excised from by the threat of the law: judge, county clerk, florist, wedding photographer, wedding cake baker, wedding planner, adoption agency. The list will continue to grow. People outside of the law and wedding industry are already starting to lose their jobs simply for believing in natural marriage. I fear this trend will only grow in the coming years.

 

HT: The Blaze

There was an interesting exchange between Justice Alito and Mary L. Bonauto, one of the lawyers arguing on behalf of same-sex marriage before SCOTUS. Alito asks Bonauto how polygamous unions could be denied the right of marriage in the future if SCOTUS ruled in Bonauto’s favor given that the rationale offered for legalizing same-sex marriage seems to apply to polygamous unions as well. Bonauto’s response was…well…interesting.  After shooting herself in the foot, the best she could come up with was a statement of faith that it wouldn’t happen due to some practical and legal concerns. Not very persuasive. The fact of the matter is that once you dispense with the opposite-sex prerequisite for marriage, the idea of “two and only two” no longer makes sense. The rational basis for limiting a marriage to two people is that there are two sexes, and the sexual completeness of one man and one woman.  As Robert Gagnon has written: (more…)

Indiana Governor, Mike Pence, has signed legislation that prevents anyone (individuals, business owners, organizations) from being forced to violate their conscience and religious convictions (what the bill calls “exercise of religion”). One would think the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution would be enough to secure these rights, but not these days. While the historical context of the bill is surely recent examples in which business owners have been forced by state governments to offer their services to homosexuals in ways that violate their conscience and religious convictions, the bill does not make any reference to homosexuality in particular. It is a general protection religious freedom.

This bill will prevent Jewish publishers from being forced by law to print anti-Jewish propaganda, gay sign-makers from being forced to make signs that condemn homosex, and Christian business owners from being forced by law to provide services that violate their religious convictions.  Like it or not, agree with it or not – that is true freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

You can read the text of the law here.  An excellent legal analysis can be found here.

Kentucky’s marriage law has been found unconstitutional by a KY juduge, though there is a stay on his decision.

Denmark’s parliament voted overwhelmingly that churches in Denmark must allow same-sex couples to use their facilities for same-sex weddings, and even officiate the weddings. If the priest of the parish is unwilling to officiate the wedding, the bishop must find a priest who is willing to do so.

The government is using its power to force churches to rent out their facilities for purposes they find immoral, and that go against the dictates of their religion.  I would love to see them try to force mosques to do the same!  Hopefully the church in Denmark will rebel.  Considering the fact that less than 1/3 of the priests object, however, I doubt it.

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I can’t keep up with all of the natural marriage laws being ruled unconstitutional these days!  Three states have had their marriage laws overturned in the last two weeks. 

Arkansas

In 2004, Arkansas voters approved a constitutional amendment that recognized a man and woman as vital to the institution of marriage.  Fast forward 10 years.  On May 9, Judge Chris Piazza of the Pulaski County Circuit Court ruled that this amendment is unconstitutional.  The Alabama state attorney general appealed to the Alabama State Supreme Court to put a stay on the decision, which was granted in a back-handed way only because Piazza’s decision did not invalidate a law prohibiting clerks from issuing marriage-licenses.  But Piazza updated his ruling to try to address the issue, and refused to suspend his decision.  As a result, some counties are continuing to issue marriage-licenses while others are not.

Oregon

On Monday, May 19, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane ruled that Oregon’s natural marriage-only constitutional amendment, passed by 57% of the voters in 2004, is unconstitutional. A request was made to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to put a stay on the decision, but the request was denied.

Pennsylvania

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III federal judge declared Pennsylvania’s marriage laws unconstitutional.  The decision was effective immediately, and same-sex couples began applying for marriage licenses the same day.

There are now 19 states, plus the District of Washington, that support same-sex marriage.

In 2004 Michigan added an amendment to their constitution clarifying that marriage is only between a man and a woman. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled the amendment unconstitutional. Michigan’s Attorney General, Bill Schuette, has asked for a stay on the ruling.

This is the sixth state in the last four months to have their marriage laws ruled unconstitutional: Michigan, Texas, Utah, Kentucky, Texas, and Virginia.

In a matter of just two weeks, three states have had their constitutional amendments that recognize a man and woman as being essential to a marital relationship struck down in whole or in part as unconstitutional.  First, Kentucky was told they had to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages as marriages in the state of Kentucky.  Then, Virginia’s constitutional amendment recognizing natural marriage as the only valid form of marriage was struck down.  Now, on February 26, federal Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that Texas’ constitutional amendment that recognizes a man and woman as being essential to a marital relationship is unconstitutional.  Like Virginia, however, the ruling does not go into effect immediately.  Judge Garcia determined not to enforce his ruling until two similar cases are decided by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Judge rules KY must recognize out-of-state SSMs

Seventy-five percent of Kentucky voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 that recognized the necessity of opposite-sex partners for a marital relationship.  No other union was recognized as a marriage, which would include same-sex marriages solemnized in other states where same-sex marriage is recognized.

On February 12 United States District Judge John G. Heyburn II ruled that the state of Kentucky must recognize the relationships of same-sex couples who had their marriage solemnized in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, as marriages. He stopped short, however, of declaring Kentucky’s marriage law unconstitutional. For the time being, Kentucky is “only” being required to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages as legitimate marriage; they are not (yet) required to solemnize same-sex marriages in their own state.

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I don’t know how I missed this news story, but on December 20 U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby declared that Amendment 3 in Utah’s constitution – which defined marriage as between a man and woman, and the voter’s passed in 2004 – is unconstitutional.  Same-sex marriages began immediately.  Utah appealed to the SCOTUS for a stay, which was granted by Justice Sotomayor on January 6.  In the 17 days before the stay, ~1300 same-sex couples were married.

Then, there’s Oklahoma.  Similar story.  On January 14, Judge Terence C. Kern of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma ruled that Oklahoma’s constitutional ban of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because it is based on a moral disapproval of homosexuality and has no rational basis.  In light of what happened in Utah, however, Judge Kern stayed his own ruling.  It is almost certain that Oklahoma will appeal the case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, CO – the same court where Utah’s appeal will be heard.

AZ enacted a law in April 2012 banning abortions at 20 weeks and later (measured from last menstrual period) due to evidence that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks.  This was ruled unconstitutional by the 9th Circuit Appellate Court in San Francisco because Roe protects a women’s right to abortion before a fetus is viable, and a fetus is not viable until ~24 weeks.  The SCOTUS refused to hear the case, and thus the ruling stands.

Judge Kleinfeld, from the 9th Circuit court, had said, “Were the [AZ] statute limited to protecting fetuses from unnecessary infliction of excruciating pain before their death, Arizona might regulate abortions at or after 20 weeks by requiring anesthetization of the fetuses about to be killed, much as it requires anesthetization of prisoners prior to killing them when the death penalty is carried out.”

Paying-Lip-ServiceOne of the reasons many conservative Christians tend to vote for Republican politicians is due to the party’s moral conservatism: pro-life, pro-family.  Several people have argued, however, that this is not a worthwhile reason to vote Republican because most Republican politicians only pay lip service to the pro-life position for political purposes, and/or they don’t really do anything to limit or abolish abortion (or can’t really do anything due to Roe).

I’ve always found the psychoanalysis claim to be dubious. It’s very difficult to prove that someone does not truly believe what they say they believe. Pro-life Republicans could make the same claims about pro-choice Democrats: They don’t really believe abortion should be permitted, but pay lip service to the pro-choice position for political purposes.  I think it’s best to avoid the psychoanalysis, and just take people at their word unless we have good reason to doubt their sincerity.

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Earlier this week, Hawaii’s senate passed a same-sex marriage bill.  Yesterday, the House approved a similar bill.  It needs to go back to the senate for reconciliation, and then on to the governor for signature (who will sign it).  This will make Hawaii the 15th state (not including D.C.) to approve same-sex marriage.  Same-sex marriages will begin in Hawaii on December 2, 2013.

11/14/13 update: Governor Neil Abercrombie signed the bill into law on Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

conscience violateIn recent days, I’ve reported on a florist who was sued for not providing flowers for a same-sex wedding, a baker who was sued for not providing a cake for a same-sex wedding, and a wedding photographer who lost a case in New Mexico’s Supreme Court because she would not photograph a same-sex wedding.  Many who support same-sex marriage applaud this phenomena, reasoning that people should not be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples.  But what about personal liberty?  What about the liberty to follow one’s conscience in these matters?  Why is it ok to require people to violate their conscience, or lose their livelihood?

Can you imagine the outcry if a homosexual printer was forced by the government to either print anti-homosexual propaganda, or get out of the printing industry?  What if a homosexual filmmaker was sued for refusing to direct a film arguing that homosexuality was immoral or harmful, and forced to either direct the film or find a new line of work?  What if a screenplay writer who was also an anti-gun activist was forced to write a script for a movie promoting the use of firearms?  Would this be acceptable?  No!   No one should be forced by the government to lend their services to projects or events they believe to be immoral, and which run contrary to their conscience.  Yet this is exactly what the government is requiring of its citizens when it comes to same-sex marriage, and many same-sex marriage advocates are applauding this.  If you support people being forced by law to violate their conscience, don’t be surprised if one day the government forces you to violate your conscience as well.  It’s ironic that those who argue for more liberty in the case of same-sex marriage are willing to take liberties away from those who disagree.

In 2011 Illinois created civil unions.  Now, just two years later they are on the cusp of creating same-sex marriage.

The IL Senate had approved a bill in February to allow same-sex marriage, and now yesterday, the IL House approved the bill with minor changes.  It’s been sent back to the Senate for reconciliation, and will be signed by the governor.  Illinois will be the 15th state (not including D.C.) to approve same-sex marriage, beginning June 1, 2014.

 

UPDATE: Governor Pat Quinn signed the bill into law on November 20, 2013.

Mary C. JacobsonIn 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the NJ legislature must give same-sex couples all of the same rights and benefits as opposite-sex couples, but did not demand that the state amend its marriage laws.  The legislature responded by creating civil unions that had identical benefits to marriage.

Fast forward seven years, and Judge Mary C. Jacobson of the State Superior Court ruled on September 27, 2013 that this is not enough – the state must call same-sex unions marriage as well starting Monday, October 21, 2013.  Governor Christie vowed to appeal the decision to the NJ Supreme Court, but when that court refused to block the law while Christie challenged it, and made it clear that they would not rule in his favor, he decided to withdraw his appeal, meaning NJ is now the 14th state to offer same-sex marriage.

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